Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

CBFC irrelevance

When Pahlaj Nihalani became Chairperson of CBFC there was joy among film producers. They thought it will be good for them as he was one of them. Soon that joy turned into grief. Under him censorship was worse. He justified his actions saying he was acting as per rules and put an end to corruption. However, refusing certificate to Lip stick under my burkha was not as per rules because there is no rule that a lady-oriented film should not be given certificate. Some CBFC members openly spoke against him. Pahlaj Nihalani did not complete three years. Prasoon Joshi replaced him. For a time there was no problem.
Then came Tamil film Mersal. BJP members were unhappy about it. They wanted some dialogues muted. Other politicians spoke in favour of Mersal. When Telugu version of Mersal was submitted to CBFC and CBFC certified it some dialogues were muted. It was strange that what was allowed in one language was not allowed in another language.
Some people do not want any censorship. They want films to be graded. Some countries do not have censorship. Films are rated according to age group.
CBFC is the authority to certify films. Once CBFC certifies a film others should not have any say in it. Many times various individuals or groups demand ban on films or deletion of scenes from films. They threaten violence. State governments do not uphold law and order. Producers are made to yield to demands.
Worse is the case when state governments ban films. In case of a regional film the loss is huge. In case of Hindi films it depends on the number of states where the film is banned. Once CBFC certified a film no state should ban it. Law and order is an excuse. Films have short life in theatres. Piracy is rampant. DVDs are out within days. Some sites show pirated films.
Rarely a producer takes CBFC to court. It happened in case of Udta Punjab. CBFC ordered 90 cuts including muting of words. Bombay High Court allowed the release of film with one cut and A certificate.
Padmavati is in trouble. Sanjay Leela Bhansali had to shift the shooting of the film from Rajasthan to Maharashtra because some hooligans invaded and vandalised the set and slapped him. When the film is complete some Rajputs in Gujarat said they will not allow the release of Padmavati. It is election time in Gujarat. BJP wants to retain the state. BJP resorted to minority appeasement. Rajput minority is appeased by talk against the film. BJP states banned Padmavati one by one.
CBFC returned Padmavati saying paper work was not complete. Under Prasoon Joshi we hear of unknown rules. It is for the first time I heard CBFC returning a film without certifying it due to incomplete paper work. When the film comes again with complete paper work it will be taken up after other films in queue. Padmavati was to be released on 1st December. Viacaom 18, producing company of Padmavati, announced they have deferred the release of Padmavati “voluntarily”. Law gives CBFC 60 days to certify a film. It is a different matter that many films get certificates in three days as former CBFC member Pankaj Sharma revealed on CNN News18. He said CBFC had acted under political pressure. Now it is said that CBFC will consult historians. That is another delaying tactic. Prasoon Joshi is unhappy that producers had private screening of Padmavati to journalists and people against of Padmavati. He speaks of diluting the importance of CBFC and need of exemption certificate from CBFC for private screening. That is another unknown rule. He has not spoken against states banning certified films or announcing bans before certification and diluting the importance of CBFC.
Announcing bounty for murder or mutilation is a crime. BJP member who announced bounty for beheading of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone should have been in jail and expelled by BJP. Nothing has happened.
Many times films are banned by state governments for reasons nothing to do with film. Vishwaroopam was banned because Kamal Haasan has spoken P. Chidambaram as the next PM of India and Jayalalithaa was not happy with it. Offending Muslim sentiments was an excuse. Hurting sentiments and threat of violence should not be reasons or excuses for banning films.
In 1989 Tamil Nadu banned Ore Oru Gramathile. Some were against it because it was opposed to caste-based reservations. The ban was challenged. Supreme Court judgment said “If the film is unobjectionable and cannot constitutionally be restricted under Article 19(2), freedom of expression cannot be suppressed on account of threat of demonstration and processions or threats of violence. That would tantamount to negation of the rule of law and surrender to black mail and intimidation. It is the duty of the State to protect the freedom of expression since it is a liberty guaranteed against the State. The State cannot plead its inability to handle the hostile audience problem.”
Once CBFC certifies a film no government, central or state, should have the right to ban the film. Otherwise there is no need of CBFC. It should be disbanded.

Pollution Solutions

Pollution is a problem that becomes worse during winter. For years Beijing made world news for pollution. This year it was Delhi.
Delhi’s pollution problem goes back to many years. Polluting industries were shut down. Diesel buses were banned. For some time it seemed the problem was over. Then the problem returned.
Diwali festival comes during winter. Bursting of firecrackers causes air and noise pollution. This year Supreme Court banned sale of firecrackers but not bursting of firecrackers. Pollution by firecrackers was less than last year.
Many measures were announced like not allowing trucks except those carrying essential items to enter Delhi, closure of Badarpur Power Plant, suspension of construction activity and ban on using DG sets. Car parking fee was multiplied by four. Delhi Government wanted Odd-Even but National Green Tribunal did not want exemptions to women, two-wheelers, VIPs and other officials. So Odd-Even did not take place.
Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is a cause for pollution in Delhi. Farmers do not have easy alternative for stubble burning. The problem continues.
This year dust storm in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq is said to have caused 40% of pollution in Delhi. Stubble burning caused 25% and local factors caused 35% of pollution in Delhi. The winds move wherever they want. They do not recognise borders between nations and states.
Central Government has announced that BS VI norms for vehicles will be applicable from 1 April 2018 instead of 1 April 2020 as was previously announced. Auto industry leaders say it is not possible to bring vehicles with BS VI norms in April 2018 as they were given time till April 2020 and were working according to that timeline. India currently has BS IV norms.
Delhi is national capital. It has headquarters of many TV channels. Pollution in Delhi gets maximum coverage. Pollution in other cities does not get much coverage.
Life must go on. Shutting down power plant and DG sets deprives electricity which is needed for work and other activities. Banning diesel cars creates problem of travelling. Suspension of construction activity results in labourers not getting wages.
Problems are continuous. When you solve one problem another crops up. Solutions have to be continuous. Solar panels will generate less electricity in winter. Windmills may be used to generate power. A solution for stubble burning may be found. Dust storm problem is a new one. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq are unlikely to worry what it does to India. They have to be persuaded to go for afforestation of deserts and dry lands. India’s capital can be shifted to Evershine City, Vasai, Maharashtra. It will reduce people, cars and pollution in Delhi.

Target Taj Mahal

There are some BJP members who want to erase all signs of Muslim Rule including Taj Mahal. For them it is not a symbol of love. One member referred to Taj Mahal as a blot on Indian culture. The talk caused outrage. UP CM defused the situation by saying Taj Mahal was built by the sweat and blood of Indian labourers.
UP tourism booklet mentions 20 sites and Taj Mahal is not one of them. The justification for that is Taj Mahal is famous and other sites need publicity. That is a good argument. People from all over the world come to see Taj Mahal. It does not need publicity.
The destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas caused worldwide outrage against the Taliban. For many outside India, Taj Mahal is the symbol of India. Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many tourists come to India to see only Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was not an invader. He was born in India. He did not imprison his father. His son imprisoned him. He was a ruler, not a traitor. He is not known to persecute Hindus or demolish mosques.
Babri Mosque demolition caused riots all over India and protests outside India. There were plans to demolish Kashi and Mathura mosques. Taj Mahal as a target is a new development.
There is an agenda. It goes beyond Taj Mahal. If they succeed Ahmedabad, Akbarabad, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Faridabad, Feroz Shah Kotla, Ferozepur, Ghaziabad, Khuldabad, Hoshangabad, Hyderabad, Murshidabad, Muzaffarnagar, Muzaffarpur, Nizamuddin, Osmanabad, Sahibabad, Secundarabad, Tughlaqabad, Akbar Road, Babur Road, Humayun Road, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, will have change of names. Urdu will be banned. Biriyani will be banned. Fatehpur Sikri, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Char Minar will disappear.
Muslims are around 15% of population. There will be resistance by Muslims and others to change of names and destruction of monuments. There was not much opposition to change of name from Aurangzeb Road to A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Road. There was resistance to change of name from Akbar Road to Maharana Pratap Singh Road and Akbar Road remained. People can continue to use old names. Names like Baroda, Bombay, Calcutta, Calicut, Connaught Place, Crawford Market, Lamington Road, Princess Street, Warden Road, Salt Lake Stadium continue to be used.

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